In Brands We Trust: How Brands and Consumer Trust Thrive Economic Growth
- While consumers are becoming more and more independent in their choices towards brands, particularly fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies’ long-term future performance highly depends on their consumers’ trust.
- The concept of brand and consumer trust remains rather under-researched. Issues related to the factors that build, maintain, and potentially destroy brand trust still remain largely unanswered.
- Brand trust is the willingness of the consumer to rely on the ability of the brand to perform its stated function while seeing the engagement with the brand as supportive and enforcing of personal values.
- Trust represents an expectation and a requirement and cannot be developed as isolated interactions with consumers by FMCG companies.
- Brand trust strategies are key for all FMCG companies and may require a future shift in investments away from promotions and traditional advertising.
- While a strong relationship with consumers increases brand trust, ‘over-promotion’ is ascertained as a number one ‘trust killer’.
In today’s business environments that are characterized by significantly changing consumer behaviour, FMCG companies’ long-term future performance depends on their consumers’ trust. Thus, this present research in cooperation with the commissioned by national brand associations in Europe, the European Brands Association (AIM), and the British Brands Group contributes to the current thinking on trust through identifying the drivers and impact of brand trust on consumer behaviour, brand competitiveness and companies’ economic performance.
To date, the definition of brand trust is still ambiguously applied across industries. Whilst marketing research has found brand trust to affect brand loyalty, decreased price sensitivity of consumers and increased product choice, we find that the concept per se still remains rather under-researched. In particular, issues related to the factors that build, maintain, and potentially destroy brand trust still remain largely unanswered and below a level that can be considered completely satisfactory. Thus, this research applies an approach to trust encompassing a transactional as well as relational characteristic being defined as follows: ‘Brand trust is the willingness of the consumer to rely on the ability of the brand to perform its stated function while seeing the engagement with the brand as supportive and enforcing of personal values’.
Trust is an expectation and a requirement and cannot be developed as isolated interactions with consumers by FMCG companies
Consumers wish to be respected and treated as ‘people’ rather than the term ‘consumer’ that implies that they are a target for the extraction of value or profit. Perhaps it is time for a change of terminology. The definition of trust has not changed over time but influencing factors, speed of building trust, destroying trust and building mistrust have materially changed and continues to do so. The ability for people to inform themselves combined with the rapid rise in ‘interconnectedness’ (e.g. via social media and review sites) means that consumers (people) can be, want to be and need to be a part of brand trust building. Hence, there is an increasing number of people who seek to be seen as respected advocates.
Brand trust strategies are key for all FMCG companies and may require a future shift in investments away from promotions and traditional advertising
Trust building and protecting will require brands to adjust which activities and measures they focus upon that are sensitive to factors specific to country, culture and level of category involvement. Benevolence trust drivers increase brand equity (intangible assets) which in turn drives brand and company value. However, it is vital to recognize that approaches to building trust through benevolence drivers must be sensitive to country-specific, cultural, and category-specific differences. Additionally, our research shows that people have increased expectations of their government to protect them but have low and declining trust so are turning to NGOs and each other to substantiate brand trust. Most significantly though, the absence of any transactional trust cannot be overcome by any initiatives. Functionality is the most basic quality and must be present at a minimum level or the consumer will not buy!
Six major dimensions of trust can be identified at the operational level
Based on existing literature, the report supports the definition of six dimensions of trust that are important to industry managers and practitioners. For brand professionals, following those dimensions represents an ‘new’ approach to brand management. This new approach treats trust as an asset that brand owners must understand and manage in order to be successful in today’s complex operating environment.
- Brand trust is context dependent. Consumer and category characteristics together with country factors impact not only the role of brand trust, but also the relative importance of trust drivers.
- High promotion pressure in a category destroys trust for brand and the category in total. Thus, ‘over-promotion’ is ascertained as a number one ‘trust killer’.
- Consumers use trust marks as relevant indicators for both functional and benevolence-related trust drivers to reduce perceived uncertainty and risk of a purchase and brand usage.
- Strong brand dedication increases brand trust.
- The stronger the relationship with consumers, the more consumers will trust the brand. This includes brands that are perceived as ‘caring’, which will have higher brand trust scores than non-caring brands.
- The higher the similarity of a brand’s values to those of consumers, the higher the consumers’ trust in that brand. This especially includes consumer perception about the sincerity of a brand’s actions that correlate to values that he/ she sees as important. Brand trust will increase when consumers evaluate the actions and communication of the brand as credible.
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Brand Trust, Brand Trust Strategy, Consumer Goods, FMCG, Marketing, Studie, Trust